He Loves You So


I cried when I read the story for the first time.

Then I cried when I told it to our church choir.

And I cried when I wrote about it.

In his book, A Lifelong Love, Gary Thomas told the story of Dr. Robertson McQuilkin, former president of Columbia Bible College and Seminary (now Columbia International University).

After decades of marriage, McQuilkin’s wife, Muriel, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Since she’d always loved art, her husband took her on a trip to London, hoping she’d enjoy seeing her favorite paintings in person—maybe for the last time she’d ever be able to truly appreciate them.

On the flight, whenever Muriel had to use the restroom, Dr. McQuilkin had to squeeze into the airplane’s bathroom with her (despite the embarrassingly critical looks from the other passengers).

Then, after all that effort, when they arrived at the museum, Muriel had one of her ‘bad days.’  She breezed passed her favorite art without even really seeing it.  They beauty and significance of it made no impression on her.

As they waited in the airport for the trip home, Muriel grew nervous and restless.  She hopped from seat to seat with her husband following along quietly behind her.  Yet, she kept returning to one particular chair next to a woman whose attire and demeanor said “all-business.”

Of all the people for his wife to hover around, she would choose someone who didn’t look like she’d appreciate being disturbed.

But as they boarded the plane, Dr. McQuilkin heard the stranger murmur something. Thinking she was talking to him, he asked her to repeat it.

“Oh,” she said, “I was just asking myself, ‘Will I ever find a man to love me like that?’”

Back home, they settled into something of a routine. Since their house was on campus, his wife would often wander out of her home to look for her husband.  She wanted to be near him always.  His presence calmed her.

But on the day Dr. McQuilkin walked her home from his office and saw her bloodied feet because she forgot to wear shoes before crossing the graveled path to look for him, he wrote his resignation letter.

Instead of running a respected university, he devotedly tended to the love of his life without regret.  Oh, such love.

Dr. McQuilkin said, “The decision to come to Columbia was the most difficult I have had to make; the decision to leave 22 years later, though painful, was one of the easiest.  The decision was made, in a way, 42 years ago when I promised to care for Muriel ‘in sickness and in health….till death do us part.”

Love like that in a world like this shocks us with its profound rarity.

We’re told to demand our own needs be met.  We’re to look out for ourselves, stand up for #1.

But here we see it, love in action, love poured out in sacrifice every single day.  It didn’t just mean giving up a career.  It meant the humbling work of a caregiver, cleaning up the mess and doing the lowest and ugliest tasks with gentleness and compassion.

Yet, we have known love like this and so much more: self-sacrificing, extravagant, astonishing love.

At Christmas, we remember that God Himself left more than a prestigious career for us—He left heaven itself—to come low as a baby in a cave, born among animals and cradled in straw, in order to live and to die because we needed rescue

Paul writes that Jesus:

…emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:7 ESV).

This is the love God has for us.

Jesus emptied Himself of glory because He loved us so.  He came small and low.  He came bloody and weak.

He lived poor.  He walked humbly.

He stepped into our mess and, fully aware of our sin and unworthiness, He died painfully.

Then He rose powerfully.

All because He loved us.

Can we fathom it?

How can we go on living like we haven’t known such love?

Worrying.  Fretting.  Rushing.  Stressing.  Fighting.  Not forgiving.

That’s how we act when we think everything depends on us and we’re all on our own down here.

But when we trust, when we rest, when we worship, when we forgive, when we love in return, that is when we live like we are loved.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16 NIV).

To read more about Dr. McQuilkin’s story, you can read this article at Christianity Today: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/februaryweb-only/2-9-11.0.html?start=5

Christmas Devotions: When you find something good, don’t keep it to yourself

It’s an annual surprise.

Some afternoon, usually in March, I hang up my gray winter coat for the last time of the season.

There’s no official ceremony or anything and the groundhog’s shadow-predictions never prove perfectly accurate.

It’s just a simple thing.  One day I casually drape my coat across the hook in my closet and there it lingers through spring, summer and fall.

Then, on a morning (usually in November), I stop deceiving myself into thinking that sweaters are enough to keep my teeth from chattering.  I reach past my fall jacket in the closet, pull down that same wool coat from its trusty hook, slip my hands into the sleeves and dip my hand into the pocket.

Whatever I left there eight months before is what I’ll discover on that first pocket search of the winter season.christmas13

I’ve pulled out Mom-things, like pacifiers and baby socks (don’t all moms pop baby socks into pockets)?

Grocery store receipts unfold like magician’s handkerchiefs—always one more emerges from hidden corners.

There are pens and paper clips, ticket stubs, rocks for my daughter’s collection, hair clips and ponytail holders, cough drops, and maybe even tissues (unused, thankfully).

There’s generally little treasure among the trash.  Mostly my life out and about with my kids consists of periodically dumping the overflow of their stuff into my pockets when my hands are full.

Occasionally, though, I reach into that winter coat for the first time in November and pull out coins.  Better yet, a dollar or two or three….or even ten.

That’s enough to make this girl happy dance in the middle of my closet.

Then, pulling myself together, I announce the news to my kids, post a happy-face announcement on Facebook and tell my husband the story later that night.

Discoveries, after all, are meant for sharing.  They’re the kind of spill-all-over joy that we can’t keep quiet about.

Maybe that’s how the Shepherds felt standing on that darkened hillside with snoring sheep.

Perhaps it even explains what the angels were doing, singing their praise songs in the night sky to an audience of somnolent herdsman about a Savior being born.

All of heaven exploded with the “good news that will cause great joy for all the people!” (Luke 2:9), the Messiah, the Lord.  They couldn’t contain the excitement!

One angel made the announcement, but others crowded the sky and joined in the chorus: “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God” (Luke 2:13).

The angel’s joyful news sent the shepherds tumbling all over themselves to see “this thing that has happened, which the Lord had told us about” (Luke 2:15).

When we hear good news, don’t we long to see with our own eyes, to experience this joy ourselves? 

That’s what sharing our testimony does: it ignites passion, it incites curiosity, it encourages a searching and finding of the truth, the Savior, of salvation.

Then, when the shepherds found the manger and peered over the corners at the baby-King, “they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them” (Luke 2:17-18).

They had discovered Jesus and no way could they keep that quiet.

No matter how many times Jesus asked those he healed in his ministry to keep quiet about it, still they rushed home and called up the local newspaper to tell their story.

Jesus himself finally told one man to:

“Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you”  Mark 5:19.

Surely his story is our story, too.  We have this testimony, of what He has done and the mercy He has shown.

Our God-stories, the discoveries of how He’s been so good to us, those moments of amazing grace and unexpected mercy in the middle of the daily grind, are all meant to be shared with others.

And the miracle of Christmas is ours to tell and ours to share; it’s the hope that others need and the joy this desperate world is searching for.

So, sing it!  So, tell it!  Don’t let that familiar feel of your salvation, the way apathy closes us in a cozy blanket of complacency, ever let us overlook the awe of this:

God loved us so.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

Originally posted October 19, 2012

Remembering: Back to School Lessons, Part Two: Love is in the Lunch Box

Originally posted on September 7, 2011

Sandwich, fruit, snack, drink, napkin.

Check, check, check, check and check,

Two Hershey kisses and a note saying, “Kisses from me to you.  Love, Mom.”


It really doesn’t matter whether we packed the lunch bag or sent the money in for the lunch line, whether we wrote a note or didn’t, if we enclosed a fancy napkin or sent in a folded paper towel, still we moms likely thought of lunch.  We made a plan to provide for our child’s nourishment.

Not all kids have a mom or dad who lives out love every day through simple acts of kindness and provision.  That makes it easy to forget that a sandwich for lunch and clean clothes for school are an expression of love.

The people in your life, whether they are your children, or your grandchildren, or your aging parents, or a sick friend, could say you love them because of your words.  When I grab my girls in a surprise hug and whisper, “I love you,” my girls always sigh loudly and say in exasperation, “We know, Mom.  You tell us all the time!”

Maybe you tell your loved ones that you care all the time, too.

But there are depths of love that remain inexpressible in words and are only made clear in our actions.  No one may even recognize the love while it’s ongoing, but they would miss it in a heartbeat if you weren’t there.

It’s the fact that we’ve provided for their lunch.  It’s being there to meet the bus at the end of the day.  It’s sitting at the table and patiently working through math problems.

And so much more.

It’s smoothing back hair and bringing juice to a sick child.
It’s reading a book by a nursing home bed.
It’s holding a hand in a hospital room
It’s toting a meal to a recovering neighbor.
It’s washing bed linens soiled by sickness.
It’s writing a note to a friend.

In our everyday lives, our love doesn’t matter much if it’s expressed in words, but never in deed.

God’s love would be a bunch of meaningless words on a page, too, if He didn’t lavish us with grace every day.

There in His Word, He tells us that He loves us.  We most likely read it or say it or hear it everyday and twice on Sundays.

As adults, though, it’s so easy to become blase and apathetic about God’s love for us.  It’s a children’s concept.  The Sunday School theme.  We define God’s love by nursery songs like “Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so.”

And so over time, it seems we picture God as loving us, but not passionately loving us.  It’s more of an unemotional general concern for our well-being and maybe more for the condition of the planet rather than for us personally.

We’ve even confined one of the most powerful Scriptures in the Bible to a kid’s memory verse and little more:  “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish and have eternal life” (John 3:16).

But did you see that in this verse His love has legs?  He didn’t just say, “Those people I made, they sure are great!  I like them a whole lot and care about them a bunch.”

Oh no.

He put His great love into action.

He loved the world, not just the human population, but you and me and each child on a school bus and each person on your street, individually, uniquely and passionately enough to sacrifice His own Son for our eternal destination.

He wants to spend eternity with you.  Now that’s over-the-top passion.

Why do we sometimes picture God as sitting relaxed on His throne, watching impassively as life bombards us with strife?  Why do we acknowledge that He sacrificed His Son for us and then treat that as “no big deal?”  Or perhaps we fail to recognize the millions of ways He sends gifts of love and grace to us every single day.

In Psalm 136, the worship leader engaged his congregation in responsive praise.  He sang out what God has done for them and the people answer in return, “His love endures forever.”

Twenty-three times they sing back the refrain, declaring that God loves them and always will.

Why?  Just because He said the words, “I love you”?

No, because He “made the heavens” and “set the earth upon the waters.”  He brought Israel out from slavery in Egypt and “divided the Red Sea asunder and brought Israel through the midst of it, but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea.”  He struck down enemy kings and gave the Hebrew nation the Promised Land.

It’s a litany of God’s love.  “His love endures forever” and we know it because of all He has done for us.

There at the bottom of the long list of reasons to give thanks: “He gives food to every creature” (Psalm 136:25).

Oh, yes, He packs our lunch.

How has God shown you His love today?  How can you give Him thanks?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King